Special votes application period underway

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Pretoria - People with disabilities who will not be able to get to their polling stations to cast their vote on 18 May should apply for a special vote, says Minister for Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Lulu Xingwana.

The opportunity to apply for special votes opened on 15 April and will close on 3 May. 

People with disabilities or infirmity, and the elderly need to complete application forms for special votes and submit them to their Municipal Electoral Office before 3 May. If they are unable to do so in person, they can ask another person to submit the forms on their behalf.

Details of the application will be recorded and they will receive a receipt that confirms if they qualify for a special vote. This receipt should be kept safely as proof that they qualify for a special vote.

"It is critical that every South African is able to participate fully in these elections. Inability to travel or stand on a queue to cast your vote on 18 May ... should not hinder people from exercising their hard-earned right to vote," said Xingwana on Sunday.

While the opportunity to apply for special votes is available up to 3 May, the minister urged people to apply early as the actual days in which applications can be submitted are significantly reduced by the closure of Municipal Electoral Offices during the four public holidays within this period (Good Friday, Family Day, Freedom Day and May 2, which is also a public holiday since Workers Day falls on a Sunday).

Those who have successfully applied for a special vote will be visited by voting officials where they live between 8am and 5pm on 16 or 17 May to allow them to cast their vote.

Xingwana also welcomed the announcement by the Independent Electoral Commission that it has procured the necessary equipment to make ballot papers available in Braille at all polling stations. 

"This is a significant development for blind people who can read Braille. For the first time during these Local Government Elections, they will be able to exercise their right to vote in secret," said Xingwana. - BuaNews